While all investments contribute to economic growth and job creation, investments in the digital economy particularly will propel the country into a new era of innovation and progress, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In his weekly letter to the nation, he said that not only was the digital economy important for growth, but it was also vital to the provision of key services such as education, social services and health care.
He said South Africa already had among the highest rates of iInternet penetration in Africa, adding that several recent tech surveys indicated that higher speeds and improved mobile and fibre infrastructure were helping to narrow the digital divide.
“This is the result of stepped-up investment in the digital economy in recent years. Since the first South Africa Investment Conference in 2018, investments in digital economy have grown exponentially. Over the past five years, we have seen total investment commitments of R200-billion in our country’s telecommunications network by Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Rain and Liquid Telecom,” he pointed out.
Ramaphosa explained that the fifth South Africa Investment Conference, held in Johannesburg last week, provided a huge boost to the country’s digital economy.
He said in addition to significant investment commitments in data and telecommunications infrastructure, there were also announcements about investments in the mining, manufacturing, energy, property, logistics and food and beverages sectors.
“These announcements took the total amount of investment commitments made over the first five years of our investment drive to over R1.5-trillion. This exceeds the target of R1.2-trillion we set in 2018,” he explained.
He highlighted that faster fibre and fifth-generation rollout made the country’s economy more competitive as more connectivity solutions help businesses emerge and expand.
Ramaphosa noted that, according to a recent report on Africa’s Data Centre Market, South Africa is fast becoming a hub for cloud hosting, with the manufacturing, financial services and health care sectors among the major data centre investors.
The report further noted that undersea cables were supporting the growth of the local data centre market.
“To take advantage of this inward investment and see it increase, we have to urgently resolve the electricity crisis and the theft and destruction of ICT infrastructure. These were among the issues raised by investors and mobile network operators at this year’s investment conference. We are working with business and other social partners to address these challenges and improve the operating environment,” he said.
He said government was also forging ahead with the structural reforms that were so critical to efforts to improve the country’s economic competitiveness.